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Nonstandard Testing Accommodations for the Bar Exam

The Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners provides reasonable and appropriate accommodations on the Massachusetts Bar Examination for qualified applicants with documented disabilities who demonstrate a need for accommodation.

February 2024 Exam: All examinees approved for testing accommodations will be seated at the Hynes Convention Center.

Table of Contents

About Accommodations on the Bar Exam

The Standard Bar Exam

The Massachusetts Bar Examination is a timed, in-person examination administered over two days in four, three-hour sessions, from approximately 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from approximately 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. There are scheduled breaks between each testing session on both testing days. The bar exam is administered twice each year, in February and July.

The first exam day consists of two performance tests (MPT) in the morning and six essay (MEE) questions in the afternoon. The performance and essay questions are designed to assess, among other things, the applicant’s ability to communicate their analysis effectively in writing. Questions are provided in paper, and applicants may handwrite or use their personal laptop computers to record their answers.

The second day consists of 200 multiple-choice questions (MBE), with 100 questions administered in the morning session and 100 questions in the afternoon session. Questions are provided in paper, and applicants record their answers by completing a scantron form.

Applicants are seated at a space pre-assigned by the Board of Bar Examiners. They are allowed to have water at their testing space, and are provided with foam earplugs. Other items requested require pre-exam approval. The examination is administered in-person. Applicants are required to refrain from speaking. They may leave their seat only to use the restroom and must notify the proctor that they are doing so. Applicants are monitored by trained proctors.


The Board of Bar Examiners (Board) administers the bar examination and all other services of this office in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Massachusetts law. A qualified applicant with a disability who is otherwise eligible to take the bar examination, but who cannot demonstrate under standard testing conditions that they possess the knowledge and skills to be admitted to the Massachusetts bar, may request reasonable test accommodations.

The Board will make reasonable modifications to any policies, practices, and procedures that might otherwise prevent individuals with disabilities from taking the bar examination in an accessible place or manner, provided such modifications do not result in a fundamental alteration to the examination or other admission requirements, impose an undue burden, or jeopardize examination security.

Requests for test accommodations will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The applicant must submit documentation from one or more qualified professionals that provide information on the functional limitations, the applicant’s current level of impairment, and the rationale for the accommodations requested on the bar examination. In addition, the applicant must submit verifying documentation of his or her history of accommodations, if any. All documentation will be retained by the Board and may be submitted to one or more qualified professionals for an impartial review. Accommodations granted elsewhere do not necessarily entitle an applicant to accommodations on the bar examination, although the Board of Bar Examiners gives considerable weight to documentation relating to past accommodations received in similar testing situations or in response to an IEP or Section 504 plan.

Arrangements for a Health-Related Condition

If you have a health-related condition that can be addressed in a standard testing room and without deviation from the standard testing schedule, you do not need to apply for accommodations, and should instead complete the Bar Exam Health Related Conditions form. Such arrangements may include: accessing medication during testing; use of an assistive device such as lumbar support, diabetic supplies, or a lactation pump; or access to food during testing due to a medical condition.

A testing accommodation is an adjustment or modification to the standard testing conditions, including the testing schedule and/or testing room. If your request includes extra testing time, additional breaks, and/or a testing environment with fewer examinees, then you must submit a complete application for testing accommodations.


The following words shall have the following meaning unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

  • Disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of the applicant. In the bar examination setting, the impairment must limit an applicant’s ability to demonstrate, under standard testing conditions, that the applicant possesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities tested on the bar examination.
  • Physical impairment is a physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the body’s systems.
  • Mental impairment is any mental or psychological disorder such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, or any specific learning disability.
  • Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.
  • Reasonable accommodation is an adjustment or modification of the standard testing conditions, or an appropriate auxiliary aid or service, that ameliorates the impact of the applicant’s disability without doing any of the following: a.) fundamentally altering the nature of the bar examination, including but not limited to compromising the validity or reliability of the examination; b.) imposing an undue burden on the Board of Bar Examiners; or c.) jeopardizing examination security.
  • Qualified professional is a licensed physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other health care provider who has appropriate training in the field related to the applicant’s disability

Please note that a diagnosis and a disability are not inherently the same; applicants for accommodations must not merely demonstrate that they have been diagnosed with a condition, but that this condition rises to the level of a disability as defined above.

Additional Resources   for About Accommodations on the Bar Exam

How to Apply

Review the information below to ensure that you submit a complete request. Incomplete applications will be rejected. A checklist is provided in Form 1, to be submitted with your application. All required forms and documentation must be submitted together and received on or before the deadline.  The forms required for applying for accommodations can be found below.


If you wish to send your application electronically, please contact accessibility@bbe.state.ma.us and provide 1) your full name, 2) your NCBE number, 3) the email address that you wish to have associated with your account (a non-school email address is preferable), and 4) your phone number. You will receive an invitation within 7 business days to register for the Applicant Portal, with instructions for how to upload your application.

By Mail

Send completed application and supporting documentation for nonstandard testing accommodations to:

Board of Bar Examiners
John Adams Courthouse 
One Pemberton Square, Suite 5-140
Boston, MA 02108

In Person

Applications can be hand-delivered to the John Adams Courthouse and left in the Board of Bar Examiners' mailbox near the front entrance.


Applications for accommodations for a July bar exam will be due by the close of business April 1 of that year. Applications for accommodations for a February bar exam will be due by the close of business November 1 of the previous year.

In the event that results for a July exam are released after November 1 or February results are released after April 1, examinees sitting for the immediate prior exam in Massachusetts will be allowed to apply for accommodations up to two weeks following the release of results. All others must meet the November 1 or April 1 deadline.

Should November 1 or April 1 fall on a weekend, the deadline would be the close of business the following Monday.

NOTE: Your application will require information and/or documentation from third-party institutions, which may include your health care provider(s), undergraduate institution, law school, standardized testing agencies, and others. It is your responsibility to collect this information by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.

Accommodations Timeline

Applications for testing accommodations may be submitted up to six months before the exam to which you are applying - accommodations applications for a July exam should not be submitted before January of that year, and accommodations applications for a February exam should not be submitted before August of the prior year. 

Before submitting your application, please ensure that all required documentation is provided. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. 

Accommodations requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. In some instances, an application packet may be referred to an independent consultant to fully evaluate the request. As a result, a decision may be returned as quickly as a few days after an application is received, and may take as long as a few weeks. Accommodations decisions will be sent via email.

Please note that the BBE typically receives a high volume of applications in the two weeks leading up to the deadline, and due to this volume it typically takes longer to review these requests; submitting your application earlier may help to expedite the process.

Applicants whose requests for testing accommodations have been denied may request reconsideration.  Requests for reconsideration must be submitted in writing and received by the Board of Bar Examiners no later than two weeks from the date of the decision.  Requests for reconsideration must include additional information - information/documentation that was not already reviewed as part of the initial application - in support of your eligibility for non-standard testing accommodations. 

Applicants who have been approved for accommodations will receive a formal accommodations confirmation letter approximately four to six weeks before the exam. This letter must be signed and returned in order to accept the accommodations that have been granted.

Examinees Retaking the Bar Exam

How to Apply

An applicant retaking the Massachusetts Bar Examination who continues to believe that an accommodation is needed must submit a Re-Appplication request stating that they request the same accommodations. 

It is not necessary to resubmit supporting documentation submitted with a previous request, provided the applicant

  1. Was granted accommodations on the Massachusetts bar exam in the last three years. Three years is counted from the most recent exam taken with accommodations plus 36 months.
  2. Is requesting the same accommodations that were previously granted.
  3. These accommodations were not granted on a temporary basis.

If an applicant is seeking to modify their accommodations, Form 1: Application for Nonstandard Test Accommodations must be submitted along with the necessary supporting documentation.

If an applicant has previously been approved for accommodations but does not meet all three criteria above, please contact our office at accessibility@bbe.state.ma.us to determine what information or documentation would be required to renew your request.


Examinees who sat for the immediate prior exam in Massachusetts must submit this request within two weeks of the release of results.

All others must submit this request by April 1 if applying for the July bar exam, or November 1 of the previous year if applying for the February bar exam.


NOTE: Updated versions of the Accommodations Application forms were made available in January 2023. If you already completed the older version of the forms, these will be accepted for the February 2024 exam. All others should use the forms linked below.

All applicants for accommodations must complete Form 1, the Application for Nonstandard Test Accommodations. Form 1 contains a checklist with more detailed information about the requirements

Forms 2 through 4 pertain to specific types of disabilities, and applicants must submit the applicable form(s) relevant to the condition(s) for which accommodations are being requested. You must complete the release on Page 1; the rest of the form should be completed by a qualified professional who can attest to your current level of functioning and the impact of any functional limitations on your major life activities. The qualified professional completing this form should attach a comprehensive evaluation report and/or relevant records, as specified in the form. The specific types of evaluations or records will vary depending on the nature of the disability.

If you have received accommodations in a prior educational or testing session, you must submit Form 5, completed by each educational institution or testing agency (hereinafter “entity”) from which you requested accommodations, whether your request was granted or denied. Complete the top portion of the form and request that the entity complete the rest of the form and return it to you for submission to the Board.

Alternatively, you may provide other proof of your accommodations history, such as a copy of the letter(s) you received from the entity notifying you of the specific accommodations granted or denied. The proof should identify the time frame (e.g., third year of law school) and the nature of the disability (e.g., AD/HD) for which any accommodations were granted or denied. If you received accommodations as a result of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan, please provide copies of all IEPs or 504 Plans as available.

All applicants for accommodations must also provide:

  1. Law school transcript(s)
  2. MPRE Score Report
  3. LSAC Candidate Item Response Report

Transcripts or report cards of your elementary, middle school, high school, and undergraduate education, as well as score reports from other standardized tests, such as the SATs, are not required. However, these are useful in providing evidence of symptoms and impairment present during childhood, particularly for those seeking accommodations on the basis of a developmental disability. The Board of Bar Examiners reserves the right to request such academic records in particular cases.

For any of the above transcripts and score reports, unofficial copies will be accepted.

Additional Resources   for Forms

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